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Colchester United v Northampton Town prediction logged
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If the shoe fits, Colchester to leather the Cobblers at the JobServe
at 15:39 23 Aug 2019

Northampton Town managed by Keith Curle and fresh from an away win at Swindon are the visitors to the JobServe Community Stadium this weekend.

The question though on many people’s lips is “are we a club in crisis?”

The answer categorically is no, not yet, but we desperately need a victory after two draws and two defeats.

I have been to the game at Plymouth where we were the better team and failed to take our chances allowing Plymouth to score a solitary winner and have just watched the capitulation from a position of strength at Grimsby, when from a commanding 2-0 half time lead we threw away the advantage with a poor defensive second half showing which resulted in two more points dropped.

Such profligacy will soon attain crisis status unless the trend can be arrested, and three points garnered at home to the Cobblers.

Now the reaction from the players at full time against the Mariners was to trudge from the field almost forgetting about the 144 members of the faithful who had cheered the team on throughout the match.

JM was conspicuous by his absence at the end. He claims that abuse was raining down upon him. I didn’t hear any and none was directed at the players from where I was standing. Of course, I have been to games where abuse has been forthcoming notably the last visit to Accrington when we lost, and the players were shocking.

JM the man who is according to the faithful “he’s big he’s scouse he’ll rob your council house” needs to grow a thicker skin. After all he has the safest job in football. He is untouchable and has the full support of the Chairman and the board without the need for the classic statement. Put simply he has less chance of being sacked that Jurgen Klopp, such is his position of safety no ultimate security.

A pity because with Phil Parkinson out of a job, I would have him back in a heartbeat at the Community Stadium but there is no vacancy and unlikely to be one for years. Not an appealing thought.

This is our fourth season in League Two we have lost some quality players this season to other clubs and the replacements are yet to gel in a side that is incapable of playing consistently for 90 minutes.

Of course, it’s not all bad. Gerken offers experience and a safe pair of hands. Ryan Jackson is superb, Tom Eastman outstanding, Ryan Clampin an inspiration.

Brandon Comley is ok, Jevani Brown is growing into the number 10 role, Luke Gambin needs to be given 90 minutes. Courtney Senior needs a kick up the backside. I like Ben Stevenson very much as a player. Big Frank Nouble played his best game for the U’s on Tuesday night and Chuck Norris has lost weight and is leaner and fitter and looking more like the striker we signed from Swindon.

Harry Pell is sorely missed, and Paris Cowan-Hall needs to get back to fitness to add to the forward play. Tom Lapslie has been missed since contracting an injury.

Luke Prosser has suddenly become an indifferent player and Omar Sowunmi despite his physical presence is criticised for his overall play. In fairness I liked him at Cefn Druids, but JM has not given him an opportunity (four minutes on Tuesday night) to shine.

But the bench is lightweight and inexperienced. The club are turning a blind eye to the clamour for a new striker in order to convert more chances which go begging every week. We have youngsters to come in but we need experience in the form of a striker and a return to health of Harry Pell soonest.

So, who will JM select for Saturday’s must win AT ALL COSTS game:

Gerken

Jackson Eastman Prosser Clampin

Senior Comley Stevenson

Brown

Nouble Norris

Subs:
Ross Sowunmi James Gambin Chilvers Hasanally Poku

Frankly with all the injuries that is the best line-up.

The Cobblers will come well heeled and with confidence after their good start and our indifferent one.

The weather in Colchester is set fair with 26 degrees Celsius and sunshine, it will feel more like 29 degrees with the humidity.

Northampton will bring 600 or so.

Time for the players to step up and secure that first league win. They must banish thoughts of the Eagles on Tuesday night and focus on a 2-0 victory.

Enjoy the game.

Up the U’s

PS dare I mention another striker who could do a job for the U's. Harry Bunn from Bury the crisis club may well be available this weekend and could sign in time for the Crystal Palace game.

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Colchester find that it's Grim up north - again
at 16:20 22 Aug 2019

First let’s get the positives and good news in the open. It was good to see Noah at the match and I thoroughly enjoyed the kind hospitality afforded me by Gerry and his Wife which was very kind and made the long journey very worthwhile.

Grimsby Away on a Tuesday night is becoming somewhat of a regular occurrence with the last four years all confirmed by the computer for Grimsby Town v Colchester United. Although a jovial steward said tongue in cheek that he would arrange for a Saturday next season. Of course, it is to be hoped that we are promoted this season and avoid Cleethorpes on a Tuesday evening.

I travelled early and went direct to Gerry’s, the weather was very good, warm sunny and little breeze. The luxury of sitting outside in the garden was very enjoyable and we left in goof time for the game in order to take in a fish n chip supper at Papa’s. The restaurant is highly recommended. The fish is always well cooked and beautifully white and appetising. Chips are well cooked and dry. Because we are still very much in the holiday season the restaurant was well populated and everyone seemed to be enjoying their fish. The medium haddock and chips is actually more like a large portion elsewhere and the walk to the stadium is a good opportunity to increase the step count for the day whilst walking off some of the calories.

We arrived at Blundell Park in good time because away supporters now face a challenging walk around the stadium and the entrance is like entering a demilitarised zone. Once inside this season we were corralled into the corner of the stadium in the Osmond Stand. 144 of the faithful were present and had been forced to occupy the first seven rows either side of the stairs. (The question is - is 144 people at Grimsby on a Tuesday night the definition of gross stupidity!) A steward was preventing anyone from going beyond row G and so we stood in the aisle until his boss arrived and allowed us to occupy the next row. At this point Noah extricated himself from the previous row and joined us in the wide-open spaces!

Timing was good, as the players were just about ready to come out for the formalities. Attendance was 4,103 and the pitch was in good condition as you would expect for late August.

JM has selected the following team:

Gerken

Jackson Eastman Prosser Clampin

Senior Comley Stevenson Brown

Nouble

Norris

Subs:
Kensdale James Chilvers Hasanally Ross Gambin Sowunmi

Now Jevani Brown is supposed to be the Number 10 but JM had him operating down the left wing!

So, to Kick off and the first few minutes were fairly even with both sides playing neat football although with Hanson in the team, there were many route one balls directed towards him. Tom Eastman repeatedly won the aerial duals which frustrated the big man.
For Colchester Frank Nouble was playing his best game ever. Operating down both flanks he held the ball up well took up good positions and showed plenty of strength. On 25 minutes we took a deserved lead. Big Frank stepped inside the penalty area and struck a powerful diagonal shot into the top left-hand side of the goal with McKeown well beaten. We were good value for the lead, and we looked the more dangerous team with Nouble, Brown and Norris all busy in their respective positions.

Ryan Clampin looks a player and I would imagine Cohen Bramall will be hard pushed to get back into the left back berth after his suspension is concluded.

Now almost on half time the industrious Nouble directed a pass to the far post where Chuck Norris outjumped two defenders to head past McKeown. 2-0 to the Super U’s.
We all opined that this would make JM’s half time team talk a relatively easy one. Indeed, the faithful were singing that JM was a tactical genius. Heavy sarcasm of course but 2-0 and were good for it.

Refreshments were taken in the Away bar which sported scarves on the walls, notably a Braintree Town one.

Michael Jolley sent his players out early and they had clearly felt the full force of his fury.
No changes at half time for either team but whatever Jolley had said his charges responded. We conceded an early penalty when Jackson was adjudged to have brought down Ogbu. Now I’ve seen this on the highlights, and I think it was a harsh penalty.
James Hanson stepped up and put the ball down the centre of the goal for 2-1. The worst possible start. Colchester who had looked so clinical in the first half were dropping deeper and deeper. I do not understand JM, there is no necessity to encourage the home team on by playing deep. We were so good during the first 45 minutes and poor in the second.

Courtney Senior was the first player to be replaced. He sees a lot of the ball, makes lots of forward runs, but inevitably loses the ball cheaply. Luke Gambin replaced him after 82 minutes. Now with all the best will in the world. It is that type of change that needs to be made much earlier so that Gambin can get into the game.

Worse was to come, JM decided to introduce Omar Sowunmi after 86 minutes but removed Norris from the action. So, 5 at the back and we were defending a free kick. Sowunmi won the ball and headed it to the edge of the box where Matt Green took aim and beat Gerken all ends up with a classic shot for 2-2.

We had potentially thrown away two more points. 5 added minutes and our strike force had dried up. No earlier in the half Chuck Norris had tried a free kick from Ronaldo distance and it went over the bar but now he was off the field we gained another direct free kick but eminently closer to the goal. Jevani Brown strode up to take it but he was intent only in chipping it forward rather than a direct strike at goal.

That in a nutshell is our dilemma we are reluctant to take a direct free kick and attempt to score directly and if Brown is the number ten then give him free rein to play behind the striker across the whole width of the pitch.

Now Grimsby gained a point from a game where we dictated the play and thus allowed them back into it. Put simply we should have won the game but dropping deeper allowed them to gain confidence and suddenly from a point where we should have made the game safe, we were struggling to keep them at bay. Two-points thrown away.

JM did not come over to the fans at the end of the game which was telling.

Since the game there had been no more talk of any additions to the squad. We desperately need a striker, not because Norris and Nouble are not scoring but because we need some commitment in the last third and someone to score more than 20 goals in a single season.

There is money (about £1.3m after all dealings so far this season) some of that would buy a decent addition to the striking ranks.

We are of course missing Harry Pell, but it is up front where the addition is required.

Northampton on Saturday is now an absolutely must win at all costs game.

Up the U’s


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Mariners all at sea against the mighty Super U's
at 22:16 19 Aug 2019

After a bizarre start to the season which has seen a draw, two defeats and a victory against Swindon in the Carabao Cup, the Super U’s sit perilously close to the foot of the table with one point from three games.

Better fortune and the old maxim about taking your chances would have seen three more points garnered, but the table doesn’t lie as someone once said.

So, Grimsby Away at Blundell Park on a Tuesday night in August suddenly becomes a must not lose and in my book a must win if we are serious about a promotion challenge.

Grimsby themselves have started reasonably well with an away win at the Globe Arena, a home draw to Bradford and an impressive win in the Carabao Cup against Doncaster followed by a narrow defeat at FGR on Saturday.

Michael Jolley will be looking to heap more misery on the U’s who have yet to determine their best starting XI and who are picking up numerous injuries.

Kane Vincent-Young is the latest quality player to leave the U’s (inevitable given our inability to get out of the basement league after three seasons) but instead of a Championship side he has gone to our Suffolk fiends. I don’t understand why Luton or Charlton were not preferred to the Poorman Road outfit. Anyway, I must let it go but it has been eating into me and continues to do so!

The last two games that I have been to at Blundell Park have resulted in a 1-0 defeat and a 2-2 draw both in 2017. In truth it is not a happy hunting ground for the U’s but then over the past four seasons not too many grounds have been. Harsh perhaps but despite my optimism we are advancing backwards or so it would seem. JM seems incapable of securing the services of a striker whereas virtually every other league two team has signed a new striker or two.

I cannot believe that JM believes his squad is good enough to go at least one place better this season when like for like signings have been woeful.

The red card for Bramall looks even worse now after KVY departure and although Ryan Clampin played out of his skin on Saturday he was injured, and it is doubtful whether he will play on Tuesday evening. Cameron James looks set to deputise. Cohen Bramall of course remains suspended after his red card against Swindon.

Dean Gerken was at fault with the winning effort from Cambridge on Saturday. But I expect him to play against the Mariners. In truth when the results are going against you that’s when the freakish goals and mistakes occur.

Notwithstanding the loss of Frankie Kent and Kane Vincent-Young our defence still has good players; notably Tom Eastman and Ryan Jackson. JM must bite the bullet and drop Luke Prosser. There is no point in signing someone like Omar Sowunmi only to leave him on the bench. Get him into the team at Grimsby. His physical presence is important in the back four and for corners when we are on the attack.

It is the midfield where JM still doesn’t know his best formation. There is no question that Harry Pell is sorely missed but he is still not fully fit and so shouldn’t play. Ben Stevenson and Tom Lapslie (injured) are able deputies. The problem is who plays on the wings; Luke Gambin was brought in to do a job and is predominantly left footed. But one of JM’s failings is his favourites tag, hence Courtney Senior often starting and then fading away badly during a game. He is even worse when the heavier pitches come into play during the winter months. But can they both play in the same team. I say yes if only to give two flank options but will they no not at present.

Jevani Brown was brought in to replace Sammie Szmodics (who continues to warm the bench at Bristol City, another unused sub at the weekend). Brown continues to receive mixed reviews. I thought he had a cracking game at Plymouth, but he has since been criticised for his indifferent performances particularly against Cambridge on Saturday. Professionalism over sentiment was the strap line which was clearly ignored. There should be no such confusion against the Mariners. He has ability and looks good on the ball, let him play the number 10 role and give him plenty of licence to cover every blade in the opposition half.

The strikers are in an exclusive club of two. Nouble and Norris. But they are no Warboys and Bannister aka Smash and Grab.

Can Junior be recalled early from Ireland or is he going to be another wasted signing. If there is feverish activity behind the scenes to sign a striker, it is being done with such secrecy that MI5 would be looking jealousy at our agents in the field. The silence is deafening.

As could be seen on Saturday the bench is wafer thin with a lack of experience and youth. Grimsby have Hanson a dedicated striker with bags of experience, Swindon have just signed on loan Doyle from Oldham. These strikers are just what we need. Failing that a Championship club U23 striker with an eye for goal. RC get your cheque book out you have the thick end of £1m available.

So, expect something along these lines at Blundell Park on Tuesday:

Gerken

Jackson Eastman Sowunmi James

Comley Stevenson Gambin

Brown

Norris Nouble

Subs:
Ross Prosser Chilvers Hasanally Poku Senior Kensdale

Of course, if Clampin is fit then he plays at left back and James drops to the bench.

Expect a thunderstorm in North Lincolnshire early doors tomorrow, but by the evening kick off it will be partly sunny and 16 degrees Celsius with only a 10% precipitation risk.

Safe journey to the travelling faithful who will be making the 186-mile journey each way. My trip is a mere 133 miles each way.

Oh, and the scoreline 3-1 to Colchester with Chuck Norris on the scoresheet with a brace and Jevani Brown to open his account with a 25 yarder.

Enjoy the game.

Up the U’s


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Super U's to secure bragging rights in local Cambridge derby
at 09:10 17 Aug 2019

Matchday Three and a tasty local derby against unbeaten Cambridge United now led by Colin Calderwood and about to be under new ownership with Paul Barry the majority shareholder taking over the club. Barry has committed to fund the club’s ongoing losses for at least 5 years and has apparently invested £1.3m to clear some existing debt.

Cambridge have started the season well with two drawn league games at Bradford and at home to Newport (both 0-0) and in midweek they won at Brentford in the Carabao Cup 5-4 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in normal time. Their “reward” is a trip to Swansea in Round Two.

Of course, it will be a case of reunions on Saturday with Jevani Brown coming up against his old club and Jabo Ibehre (who has now clocked up 600 EFL games) returning to Colchester. Cambridge also have threats from Reggie Lambe and Andrew Dallas.

As far as Colchester is concerned the big talking point has been that of Kane Vincent-Young going to the Farmers for £500K. A strange and unpopular move because we said no to Luton Town (twice) and Charlton were also rebutted. Yes, Ipswich were interested last season (now under new management) but they weren’t interested until loanee and top goal scorer Luke Garbutt was injured in their last match.

Over the years many players have been transferred between our two clubs (not unusual given the geographical proximity and monitoring of players that appears to constantly go on) but I’ve always believed that the Poorman Road club have always received the better end of the deal. Bigger club and support yes but they have been in the doldrums for many years now. Anyway, the deal has been done and we have lost another of our better players.

Ipswich to Colchester:
Neil Gregory
Tom Eastman
Micky Stockwell
Chris Keeble
Steve Whitton
Alec Chamberlain
Dean Gerken

Colchester to Ipswich:
Kevin Lisbie
Freddie Sears
Anthony Wordworth
Kane Vincent-Young

More disturbingly JM as far as I know did not win the appeal against the red card from the FA for Cohen Bramall, who will now miss the next three games and with the sale of KVY leaves us with limited cover. Either Kensdale or Cameron James will deputise at left back.

Worryingly the Injuries are mounting up; Paris Cowan-Hall is out with an achilles injury, Harry Pell with tendonitis and now Luke (Chuck) Norris is being monitored for a hamstring injury.

Our strike force which is wafer thin has just been reduced by 50%. Junior is still at Derry City until November.

I notice that as late as yesterday League Two clubs are signing strikers on loan. Colchester have made no inroads into either the permanent deal or loan market for a striker and the talent pool must be reducing drastically.

Therefore, the team is likely to be along the following lines:

Gerken

Jackson Eastman Prosser James

Lapslie Stevenson

Senior Gambin

Brown

Nouble

Subs:
Ross Kensdale Sowunmi Chilvers Comley Hasanally Clampin

Now I know that the mere mention of a striker sends JM into a blue funk, but whether he likes it or not some of that cash from Szmodics (£750K), Kent (£360K) and KVY (£500K) must be diverted to the acquisition of a new striker.

I don’t understand why those august organs of the press (Gazette and EADT) are not clamouring for a striker on the U’s behalf.

Still the patched-up team will have to pull out all the stops today to secure three points. A win is vital to not only keep the confidence levels up but also put some points on the board to keep pace with the leaders.

A pleasant 21 degrees Celsius and sunny intervals at the JobServe CS today.

Cambridge will bring 600+ and so it is hoped to see 4,000 inside the stadium. The faithful will be in good voice in the South Stand.

Three points with a 2-0 home victory.

Enjoy the game.

Up the U’s


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And we think we've got it tough
at 22:03 14 Aug 2019

Some Posh fans are already saying their season is already over after 3 games.

Two league defeats to Fleetwood and Oxford and then a Carabao Cup defeat to Oxford.

Of more concern is the lack of goals.
Of course they paid a lot of money for Mo Eisa.
But this is surely a nonsense three games and the season over. Get real.

Welcome to our world!

UTU's
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Super U's to clip Robins' wings in Carabao Cup encounter
at 14:05 13 Aug 2019

After the disappointment of an undeserved narrow defeat at Plymouth on Saturday JM and his charges prepare to entertain Swindon Town in the Carabao Cup tonight followed by a local derby against Cambridge United on Saturday.

Both vital games, first because we haven’t registered a victory yet this season and secondly because the opportunity to play in Round 2 of the League Cup is something that we haven’t experienced for several years.

No pressure then. The one thing that is going to be brought up time and again unless we make a signing is the lack of firepower up front. Plymouth proved that you have to be ruthless in order to make chances count. Sarcevic’s shot was one of only two on target but it resulted in the vital match winner. Small margins because Tom Lapslie was a whisker away from converting a low cross only minutes before.

Our squad is good enough to secure vital results, but they must convert opportunities and unless we do so there will be hard luck stories come the end of the season.

Richie Wellens brings his Swindon Town side to the JobServe stadium this evening having started well in the league, but he is another manager seeking strikers. Over 7,000 supporters witnessed their 3-2 comeback win against Carlisle at the weekend.

Tonight, though is all about Colchester securing a cup win a rarity over the past 10 seasons.

Will Kane Vincent-Young play given the predatory interest from the Farmers. Frankly their interest has been introduced following unsuccessful attempts to prose him away by both Luton and Charlton.
But Ipswich are in dire financial straits and we should be able to resist their advances.

So will JM change any aspect of the team. I certainly would. Lets give Omar Sowunmi an opportunity with a home debut tonight in place of Luke Prosser. Prosser had an indifferent game at Plymouth and was badly outpaced in the first half when he had a yard on his opponent.

Vincent-Young must play and so must talisman Ryan Jackson who looked the part again when he came on second half against the Pilgrims. I would also give Ethan Ross an opportunity between the sticks. I would bring Gambin in for Senior who despite seeing a lot of the ball was profligate with it and failed to inspire his colleagues.

Leave Harry Pell on the physio table we need him on Saturday against Cambridge.

So, the team:

Ross

Jackson Eastman Sowunmi Vincent-Young

Lapslie Stevenson

Gambin Brown Nouble

Norris

Subs:

Gerken Kensdale Prosser Chilvers Comley Hasanally Senior

Weather tonight is 17 degrees Celsius and it will be partly sunny at kick off.

Enjoy the game.

Up the U’s

[Post edited 13 Aug 17:24]
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U's unlucky to lose at Home Park in close encounter
at 23:13 10 Aug 2019

After the stormy weather and torrential rain showers for the past 24 hours in the South West of England, it was incredible to experience watching the entire match in warm strong sunshine after several watering’s of the surface from the overzealous sprinkler system.

Another defeat at Home Park but surprisingly tonight I’m not too disappointed. It was one of those games where the better team lost. Several seasons ago we played Bury at Layer Road and won the game 1-0 with a Lindsay Smith winner! However just as today the away team were the better team, played the better football and were unlucky to lose. Bury also were promoted that year. Well if Plymouth Argyle are to be promoted then they will be taking Colchester with them on this showing.

I was willing an equaliser if for no other reason but to exact some justice on the incredible time wasting from home keeper Palmer (on loan from WBA). The weak referee spoke to him twice but took no other action and after 6 substitutions he only managed to find 3 additional minutes rather than the more appropriate 6 which would have been fairer.

The weather in North Cornwall had been wet and windy during the past 24 hours and when setting off extra early for the game I drove through torrential rain showers and strong winds. The weather was especially bad only 5 miles from the ground at the Tamar Bridge and after arriving at 1pm another two or three hefty showers threatened to put a real dampener on proceedings. Because the car park is also used for park and ride into the City Centre it was packed out two hours from kick off, but I managed to park at the Mayflower overflow car park B near the life centre and only five minutes’ walk to the stadium.

Now when the new Mayflower stand is open in the New Year away supporters will be able to walk easily to the turnstiles but at present you must walk all around the stadium. I tried a Ginsters Pasty and a tea before the game and enjoyed the pre match entertainment. The now hackneyed Cross Bar challenge where some poor sap tries his luck from the halfway line. Two efforts were embarrassingly short and wide of the target.

Harry Pell was missing from the line-up and the bench suggesting he is still not fit enough to play. But he is missed.

JM lined up:

Gerken

Vincent-Young Eastman Prosser Bramall

Lapslie Stevenson

Senior Brown Nouble

Norris

Subs:
Kensdale Jackson Chilvers Comley Hasanally Gambin Ross

Now let me get the moans out of the way from the outset. The bench is devoid of Strikers. Any injury to either Big Frank or Chuck and we are up the proverbial creek. Junior is away until November.

The transfer window is open until 2 September and we have money. Let do a deal and get a striker in now.

The crowd was 10,542 and slightly over 200 had travelled from Colchester and the exiles.

After some initial noise rom the home fans, it quickly became a library as Colchester took the game to their opponents. Jevani Brown had a very encouraging game, full of invention and pace. Tom Lapslie was a terrier and covered every blade of grass. I liked young Bramall whop was not afraid to make foraging runs into the opposition territory. Considering we were playing into the wind first half I felt we used the ball better than Plymouth.

Luke Prosser was beaten for pace right on the corner of the box but Gerken saved comfortably with his legs. Stevenson, Senior and Norris all had presentable shots in the first half. After 34 minutes Joel Grant was injured off the ball and went off (I understand it is a hamstring problem). Little sympathy from me he was the turncoat who was coming to Colchester only to reverse his decision and sign a new two-year deal at Home Park.

At half time I met up with Wessex and one of his sons. It was good to see him, and he was in good form. No changes from either team for the second half.

The second half saw the U’s attacking the end with the faithful who were in good voice throughout. After 50 minutes a game changing moment Kane Vincent-Young delivered a wicked cross and Tom Lapslie was inches away from getting a toe onto it which would have been a certain goal.

That proved costly because on 57 minutes Sarcevic struck a shot from the edge of the box past Dean Gerken. Plymouth’s first shot on target.

The ineffective Senior was replaced after 64 minutes by Luke Gambin (who should have started the game). Senior has pace and dribbling ability but never seems to want to drive on when the ball is at his feet. Gambin immediately looked dangerous and struck a cross shot narrowly wide of the far upright.

The game changed in our favour after Jackson’s arrival on 76 minutes. Bramall went off he had done nothing wrong, but Jackson is an excellent right back and immediately added impetus to the attacking options. The industrious Lapslie was replaced by Andre Hasanally after 86 minutes for a cameo role.

It was however the final 15 minutes when we gained the upper hand and attacks were coming down both flanks. Vincent-Young, Jackson, Gambin, Stevenson and Nouble were all to the fore and Palmer was wasting time for England.

The final whistle brought such elation from the home players and supporters you would have thought they had won the league already. What was insufferable was a home lap of honour which was invidious at best.

My man of the match was the imperious Tom Eastman.

We had 40% possession, 13 shots of which 4 were on target and 5 corners. Plymouth mustered fewer shots and corners, but they won the game because they made their few opportunities count.

JM must secure the services of another striker this week. It is a priority.

Attention turns to the Carabao Cup this week and then a local derby against Cambridge.

Up the U’s

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Plymouth Argyle next up for the Super U's
at 17:22 6 Aug 2019

JM takes his U’s charges to Home Park Plymouth this weekend for an intriguing clash of two potential promotion rivals.

The Pilgrims are of course on a high after a comfortable 3-0 away victory at Gresty Road Crewe, where almost 1700 of the Green Army made the trip from Devon.

I suppose you could argue that Plymouth Argyle is also Bury in disguise because apart from the capture of ex Bury manager Ryan Lowe they have further raided the Gigg Lane club and now include Aimson, Mayor, McFadzean and Telford in their ranks, all of whom played for the Shakers last season.

Before Argyle supporters automatically claim the League Two Championship trophy though, they should consider that against Crewe their team only had 37% possession, but of their 13 shots, 9 were on target and three of course resulted in goals. Perhaps something for the U’s to muse on.

The Pilgrim’s goal that gave me the most chagrin was that of U’s summer target Joel Grant; who despite receiving a lot of press speculation that he was unhappy at Home Park and wanting to move back to London and was linked to Colchester, miraculously in a Road to Damascus moment changed his mind and committed himself to the Devon club for another two seasons. And McFadzean, who netted a brace on Saturday, didn’t score last season in 49 appearances for the Lancashire club.

Now I’ve been looking back at some recent games that I have attended between Plymouth and Colchester. The last at Home Park was in October 2016 and we lost 2-1 to an unlucky deflected winner in the 87th minute. The game was evenly poised at 1-1 when the Referee was poleaxed by a Plymouth player. After a delay whilst the official was stretchered off the game restarted. There should have been a drop ball but the new Referee allowed Plymouth to take a throw in about 20 yards farther up the pitch (almost on the half way line) and the ball came to Luke Prosser who played a weak back pass to big Sam who struck his clearance against the Plymouth player and it sailed into the net for an undeserved winner. Macca Bonne was brought on in the 92nd minute for his customary super sub appearance.

I also went to the return game at the Weston Homes where we fought out a 0-0 draw against already promoted Argyle.

Boarders will probably best remember the time we locked horns with Neil Warnock in 1996 when in the Semi-Final of the Play Offs we defeated Plymouth 1-0 at Layer Road in the first leg with a Mark Kinsella winner only to lose 3-1 at Home Park where another late winner in the 85th minute gave Argyle a 3-2 aggregate win.

Before moving on a word about our opening game against Port Vale. Yes, a disappointing 1-1 home draw but we did draw at Notts County 0-0 last season. Players are still finding their feet so to speak, and we conceded a very early penalty, on another day we could have lost 1-0, but the team came back into contention and Norris finished smartly in the box just on half time. Second half we had the lion’s share of possession and chances, but it wasn’t to be. That point could be vital later in the season especially as Port Vale could be the surprise package this season under new ownership, new management and with a host of new faces. The main thing is to avoid defeat and build momentum.

Back to Plymouth. Home Park is going through a redevelopment phase and the new stand should be ready for Swindon Town to enjoy on New Year’s Day in front of 18,000 expectant members of the Green Army in the “Theatre of Greens”, sounds like a Greengrocers!

Ok so our record at Home Park is not brilliant but I think we will win on Saturday and that this is actually a great time to play the Devon club. Following their away win the fans will be anticipating a comfortable win against the Essex Club. An element of complacency will creep in and there will be a feeling that they only have to turn up to claim the win.

Colchester must remember that they can secure an away win at Home Park and that the pressure is firmly on Lowe and his charges. Large crowds, (Plymouth are hoping for 10,000), as we have seen many times before quickly quieten and that library style atmosphere then pervades, which affects the home side.

Make no mistake it will be a difficult game, but this is a great time to play the Pilgrims. Always remember that no titles are won in August, but you can be cut adrift with some early poor results and then must play catch up. In order to achieve at least 75 points for a coveted play-off spot, results must be garnered regularly, and consistency is the key word.

Now JM has not been helped by a pre-season injury to Ryan Jackson which although the scan showed no irregularity, when he returned to training there was clearly an ongoing problem. Paris Cowan-Hall has also contracted an achilles problem and so he will be out for some weeks. There are also doubts about Harry Pell’s fitness, which is a big issue because his inability to play for four months last season ultimately cost us a top seven spot.

That said I think that JM knows his preferred match day squad particularly after the injury news and last weekend’s game against Port Vale. This week we cannot start slowly and waste the first 20 minutes of the game because if so, we could be 2-0 down at Home Park. The team must hit the ground running and start strongly and effectively. In short take the game to Plymouth from the get-go.

That means no 4,5,1 and ultra-defensive tactics which we have deployed in the past. JM wants to go 4,4,2, or 4,3,3 and attack from the start. It doesn’t matter who you play in League Two, every team can defeat everyone else on their day.

Therefore, I hope that JM lines his team up something like this 4,3,3:

Gerken

Vincent-Young Eastman Prosser Bramall

Gambin Lapslie Stevenson

Brown Norris Nouble

Subs:

Ross Sowunmi Kensdale Pell Senior Chilvers Hasanally

Clearly if passed fit Pell must play in which case Stevenson drops to the bench. I am concerned about Courtney Senior though. He has skill, good dribbling ability and pace but equally he can drift in and out of games and particularly away from home soon become anonymous. Much was and is expected from Jevani Brown and I look to him to improve on a lack lustre performance last weekend.

If Chuck Norris is back to his best, then I expect him to perform well on Saturday and it should be a classic with the Super U’s edging it 3-2 to send the faithful home happy. As for the Greens, well they will quickly boil away to nothing if we approach the game in the right manner. In Norris we have a striker who has the ability and skill to score the much vaunted 20+ goals for the U’s this season but he needs the right kind of support from the midfield and his colleague Big Frank Nouble.

I strongly urge JM not to play five at the back with a lone striker who quickly becomes isolated. Attack must be the mantra and whilst you can respect the Argyle team there is no need to fear them. Momentum and initiative are key, and Colchester must take the game to their opponents.

The weather in Devon on Saturday is set to be 20 degrees Celsius with light rain (precipitation 80%) breezy with sunny intervals. The pitch will therefore not require sprinklers!

Safe journey to the travelling faithful making the 290-mile journey. I will be staying in North Cornwall and will drive over at lunchtime on Saturday.

Up the U’s

[Post edited 7 Aug 10:08]
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Former U's watch and player updates
at 17:25 4 Aug 2019

Freddie Ladapo scores on his debut for Rotherham in a 2-1 away win
Luke Garbutt scores the only goal for the Farmers at Burton
Ian Henderson scores for Rochdale in a 3-2 away win at Tranmere
Mika Mandron unused substitute for Gillingham in the 1-1 draw at Doncaster

Sammie Szmodics on the bench for Bristol City currently 1-0 to Leeds and second half to come

Summer Transfer target Joel Grant scores for Plymouth in a comfortable 3-0 win against Crewe

UTU's
[Post edited 5 Aug 21:33]
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Port Vale first up at the JobServe for the Super U's
at 10:56 2 Aug 2019

The Super U’s led by JM kick off their fourth successive League Two campaign on Saturday against Port Vale led by coach Dave Kevan and manager John Askey. Port Vale have new owners, and this will be their first match in that capacity. Carol and Kevin Shanahan recently took over from Norman Smurthwaite.

Port Vale have injury problems and doubts about Cristian Montano, Ryan Lloyd and Rhys Browne. But they do have plenty of attacking options with David Worrall and David Amoo as wide players with Richie Bennett, Mark Cullen and the legend that is Tom Pope potentially leading the line.

Now JM may not want talk of promotion or play offs, but this season is all about getting out of league two and we must start as we mean to go on. Tomorrow is all about the three points and to get early season confidence before we travel to Plymouth (one of the favourites for promotion). My tickets for Plymouth and Grimsby arrived yesterday, but a handsome home victory is the number one priority.

Recent comment has been about the U’s signing former Arsenal left back Cohen Bramall (he never actually played for the Gunners but comes highly recommended). The official Colchester site has not confirmed his signature yet but if he has indeed signed then he must go straight into the matchday squad, especially as Ryan Jackson appears not to have overcome his stomach injury.

Another newsworthy item is that Academy Goalkeeping Coach Darren Smith has been reunited with Dean Gerken having signed from Ipswich as the new U’s Goalkeeping Coach.

As I posted earlier in the week, I am not sure of JM’s first XI from the pre-season games, but I expect him to go with something along these lines in a 4,3,3 formation for the opening game:

Gerken

Vincent-Young Eastman Prosser Bramall

Lapslie Pell Stevenson Gambin

Brown Norris Nouble

Subs:

Ross Sowunmi James Hasanally Fernandes Cowan-Hall Chilvers

If Bramall has not signed then expect James to play left back.

The Referee at the JobServe community stadium will be Darren Drysdale and the weather is set to be 21 degrees Celsius with some cloud, but little chance of rain.

The pitch has been reseeded during the summer and should be immaculate.

Enjoy the game.

Up the U’s


[Post edited 3 Aug 11:06]
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Dover provide final pre-season opposition on Saturday
at 16:15 26 Jul 2019

Led by Andy Hessenthaler they drew with Gillingham 2-2 on Tuesday evening.

On Saturday JM takes his charges to Crabble Top hoping for a good result before the game at home to Port Vale on 3 August.

In 1975 we played the Whites at home in the FA Cup and after a 3-3 draw contrived to lose 4-1 after extra time in the replay. That was of course a long time ago.

Dover weather scheduled to be showery and 21 degrees Celsius.

Safe journey to the travelling faithful.

UTU's

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Season Preview 2019-20
at 11:22 26 Jul 2019

Colchester United start their fourth consecutive League Two campaign following the disappointment of an eighth-place finish last season following the infamous 87th minute equaliser for Newport County at Morecambe. Momentum is the key attribute in the play offs and Colchester would have been in pole position had they achieved that seventh-place finish.

The Final Table shows:
Played 46 Won 20 Drawn 10 Lost 16 GF 65 GA 42 GD +23 Points 70 Position 8th

Clearly last season is now forgotten, but note to JM, the defeats must be reduced and the goals for must be 20 greater if we are to achieve promotion this season.

The squad and their numbers so far assembled for the forthcoming season includes:

GOALKEEPERS
Ethan Ross 29
Dean Gerken 1
Bailey Vose

DEFENDERS
Ryan Jackson 2 – currently injured
Omar Sowunmi 6
Luke Prosser 5
Ryan Clampin 21
Cameron James 17
Ollie Kensdale 19
Tom Eastman 18
Kane Vincent-Young 22
Danny Collinge 41
Matthew Weaire
Dean Ager 34

MIDFIELD
Brandon Comley 14
Ben Stevenson 24
Courtney Senior 7
Noah Chilvers 27
Michael Fernandes 40
Tom Lapslie 4
Andre Hasanally 37
Luke Gambin 26
Louis Dunne 23
Jevani Brown 10
Paris Cowan-Hall 11
Harry Pell 8
Diaz Wright 16

STRIKERS
Frank Nouble 45
Luke “Chuck” Norris 9
Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe 20 (the forgotten man on loan at Derry)

New Additions this season include Omar Sowunmi from Yeovil, Danny Collinge, Matthew
Weaire, Andre Hasanally, Dean Gerken from Ipswich, highly regarded Luke Gambin from Luton, Jevani Brown from Cambridge for £310K, and Paris Cowan-Hall from Wycombe.

Amongst the departures include Sammie Szmodics to Bristol City for £750K, Frankie Kent to Peterborough for £360K, Brennan Dickenson to MK Dons, Dillon Barnes to QPR, Todd Miller to Brighton and Mika Mandron has now signed for Gillingham. Ironically, he has been playing for them in pre-season and has already scored twice including one from the penalty spot. I should make it clear from the outset that as much as I liked Mandron, he simply didn’t know where the goal was, perhaps Gillingham may get more from him.

Ryan Jackson’s injury has shown how much we rely on the full back and although triallist Jack Senior played against the Addicks on Tuesday evening, no additional full back has yet been signed.

Sadly, it is the strike force where we once again look very weak. A check on the statistics show that the last time a Colchester player scored more than 20 goals in one season was Jamie Cureton with24 in the first Championship season 2006/7.

In more recent times the situation is even more grim because the top goal scorer has only mustered the following returns:

2012/13 Ibehre, Sears 8 each
2013/14 Sears 12
2014/15 Sears 14
2015/16 Moncur 14
2016/17 Porter 16
2017/18 Szmodics 13
2018/19 Szmodics 15

I am not convinced that either Nouble or Norris will manage more than 10 each this season. When we played Oldham away last season Chuck Norris was virtually unplayable and enjoyed a rich vein of goalscoring form. After his injury he has never managed to recapture that form. His spectacular shot against the Addicks on Tuesday underlines the talent, but can we see this on a more regular basis. Equally Big Frank Nouble gets through an amazing amount of work and his commitment is not at fault, but he fails to convert enough chances.

Whilst it pains me to mention the Poorman Road side, they have invested in Norwood and Johnson; strikers who both demonstrated their goalscoring value to the team and both will do well in league one this season.

We currently have no one who is capable of scoring 20+ goals in a single season for the first team and I simply do not understand why JM doesn’t seek out a striker.

Perhaps he believes that the goals will come from the midfield through Pell, Stevenson, Senior, Gambin, Brown and Cowan-Hall, but they cant all play in the same starting XI.

It is also debatable whether JM has decided on his starting XI for Saturday 3rd August against Port Vale.

Sensibly he has used most of the squad in the friendlies, but he is unsure of a 4,4,2 formation or 4,2,3,1 or 3,4,3 or 3,5,2 mainly because of an unlucky injury to Ryan Jackson.

Goalkeeper seems to be between Gerken and Ross. I like Ethan Ross; he was simply brilliant at the end of last season in the key games against MK Dons and Lincoln City. His handling is assured, his kicking is accurate, and his shot stopping is sublime.

Dean Gerken’s arrival at the age of 34 and ten years after he left us for Bristol City, has put the cat amongst the pigeons. JM likes his favourites and is likely to make Gerken his number one. I disagree and would like to see Ross in that position.

The defence is clearly between a three or four formation dependent on Jackson’s availability.
If a three then Eastman, Sowunmi and Prosser look favourite but with two conventional full backs then Jackson and Vincent-Young would be complemented by either Eastman or Sowunmi or Prosser or James. Cameron James could be flexible enough to play left side at the back in a four man defence.

In Midfield Harry Pell, Ben Stevenson and Tom Lapslie would be automatic choices. However, we have an embarrassment of riches with Courtney Senior, Brandon Comley, Michael Fernandes, Andre Hasanally, Luke Gambin, and Noah Chilvers.

JM also must decide how he best deploys Jevani Brown and Paris Cowan-Hall. Best described as attacking midfielders, arguably Brown is the better player and must be played probably on the wing and possibly up front depending on whether a two- or three-man formation is utilised. Colchester show both as strikers but that is creative journalism and having seen both play, they are attacking midfielders rather than out and out strikers.

Worst case scenario away from home is the dreaded 4,5,1 and then either Norris or Nouble become isolated and fade badly.

Can JM utilise both strikers in a 4,4,2 or even a 3,4,3 with Brown as the third man (not Harry Lime though!).

Possible line ups: Option 1 - 3,4,3 (without Jackson)

Ross

Eastman Sowunmi Prosser

Vincent-Young Pell Stevenson Lapslie

Brown Norris Nouble

Option 2 - 4,4,2 (when Jackson is fit)

Gerken
Jackson Eastman Sowunmi Vincent-Young

Brown Pell Stevenson Gambin

Norris Nouble

Option 3 - 4,5,1 (Not recommended Norris becomes isolated)

Gerken

Jackson Eastman Prosser Vincent-Young

Brown Pell Stevenson Lapslie Gambin

Norris

Unless further signings arrive (and of course the transfer window extends until September), this is the squad that Colchester have assembled to get us out of this wretched league.

One final point concerning possible signings. He will cost, but Kane Hemmings from Notts County will supply the goals to fire us out of this league and he will bring competition to the forward line. Does he really want to play Conference football or an opportunity to play in North Essex and gain promotion to league one. Are Colchester prepared to spend another £300K for his services. Yes, let’s get it done.

So, let’s look at the opposition who are likely to be challenging for the other six play-off/promotion places. Perennial Play-Off failures Exeter City will be there or there abouts and Bradford and Plymouth two of the relegated sides look strong on paper. Mansfield Town and Swindon will not be far off the pace leaving newbie’s Salford City with more money than you can shake a stick at and more ex-premier league footballers behind the scenes and looking to emulate Tranmere Rovers, Fleetwood Town and others who have achieved promotion to league one. Two dark horses could be Scunthorpe and Leyton Orient whilst Stevenage are talking about automatic promotion. Seriously though this must be one of the weakest Leagues for some years.

Automatic promotion must be the aim this season, but the play offs at the very least. Can JM motivate the team to glory? We will see and soon.

Up the U’s

[Post edited 26 Jul 16:06]
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Addicks in Town tonight
at 15:28 23 Jul 2019

Lee Bowyer brings his newly promoted Championship team to the JobServe this evening for the U's penultimate pre-season friendly.

After the mauling against the Poorman Road outfit JM will need to think carefully about his line up.

No harm in trying a 3,4,3 formation tonight.

Anyway Bowyer has made a couple of interesting signings, not least Macca Bonne (whatever your point of view for or against, I believe he will be a star for Charlton this season).

More interestingly is the signing of Chuks Aneke from the Franchise, who I have always liked. He of course had a shocker with the rest of his teammates when we defeated MK Dons towards the end of last season but like Bonne will be an important team player this season.

Charlton lost to Gillingham at the weekend, but they will be keen to secure a win against the U's tonight.

Just as Norwood and Johnson tormented us so could Bonne and Aneke (there is a possibility that Aneke could be rested) and our defence needs to stand strong but it is the forward line which was sadly lacking against ITFC.

So lets go for the following line up in a 3,4,3 formation:

Gerken

Eastman Sowunmi Prosser

Vincent-Young Lapslie Pell Stevenson

Brown Nouble Cowan-Hall

Subs:

Ross James Fernandes Chilvers Gambin Hasanally Norris

Currently basking in 30 degrees of heat, Colchester will still be about 24 degrees Celsius at kick off tonight so plenty of water breaks required.
It is also very warm in Durham and the sunshine is very welcome.

I note that the South Stand is closed tonight owing to lack of interest!!!!!!!

So probably 2,500 tonight after the euphoria of a 5,000 plus crowd on Friday.

Can we finish the home friendly with a much needed victory, I do hope so.

Enjoy the game.

Still time to sign a new striker before the season starts!!!!

UTU's

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Our Suffolk fiends next up for Super U's
at 12:58 19 Jul 2019

Paul Lambert brings his newly relegated Poorman Road outfit to the JobServe Community Stadium this evening. About 2,000 Farmers will be supporting their team.

Ipswich have actually made two decent signings in James Norwood from Tranmere and Luke Garbutt on loan from Everton. Norwood is a good lower division striker who is capable of 20 goals plus per season whilst Garbutt has not developed into the quality player that I thought he would. Too many loan signings at some indifferent teams have not helped him and he often plays left back or left wing. Let us hope that Ipswich do not waste his talent this season.

They are favourites with Sunderland and Pompey to go up this season from league one, but it will be a tough league for them to adjust to.

JM will still be experimenting but with only Charlton and Dover to come before the Port Vale game he must have some thoughts as to his starting XI on August 3rd.

Ryan Jackson's injury comes at an inopportune time and I do hope that he will not be out for too long.

Expect around 22 players to get some more game time tonight but this could be a preferred starting XI against the Farmers:

Gerken

Vincent-Young Eastman Sowunmi James

Lapslie Stevenson Pell

Brown Nouble Cowan-Hall

Subs:

Ross Kensdale Prosser Fernandes Norris Gambin Hasanally

Plus Ager, Chilvers, Comley, Clampin, and Senior

Weather looks like being showery and 19 degrees Celsius at the Stadium this evening.

Friendlies normally count for nothing, but this is a game that neither side will wish to lose.

Enjoy the game

UTU's

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Cefn Druids next up for Super U's
at 10:21 12 Jul 2019

Colchester are currently on an annual 4-day training Camp in Chester which they started in 2016. The facilities allow team bonding and it provides an ideal opportunity to meet ahead of Open Day on Sunday.

Next up is the Pre-Season Friendly against Welsh Premier League side Cefn Druids who play at the Rock in the village of Cefn-mawr near Wrexham. They are the oldest football club in Wales dating back to 1872 and last season finished 10th in the league thus preserving their Premier League status.

The ground is relatively new and has been their home since 2010. It houses 2,500 people of which 500 are seated. The location is picturesque, and the surface is artificial 3G which we have played on before and will bring its own challenges. Don't forget kick off is at 1pm Saturday. Admission £5 and free car parking.

I am going and my youngest son has agreed to accompany me. It will afford the opportunity to see most if not all of the new signings and should be a challenging run out for the team.

Ethan Ross
Ryan Jackson
Omar Sowunmi
Luke Prosser
Ryan Clampin
Brandon Comley
Ben Stevenson
Courtney Senior
Noah Chilvers
Michael Fernandes
Frank Nouble

Dillon Barnes
Bailey Vose
Cameron James
Ollie Kensdale
Tom Eastman
Kane Vincent-Young
Tom Lapslie
Andre Hasanally
Luke Gambin
Dean Ager
Chuck Norris
Louis Dunne
Jevani Brown
Paris Cowan-Hall
Danny Collinge
Matthew Weaire
Harry Pell
Diaz Wright
Todd Miller

JM will be thinking about his starting XI for the Ipswich and Charlton games and Saturday may offer some clues to a possible starting XI for Port Vale only three weeks away now.

Possible starting XI 4-3-3 v Port Vale

Ross

Jackson Eastman Sowunmi Vincent-Young

Lapslie Pell Stevenson

Brown Nouble Cowan-Hall

Subs:

Reserve GK, Prosser, James, Senior, Gambin, Fernandes, Norris

The weather is set to be 20 degrees Celsius and mainly sunny with some cloudy intervals. Anyway, safe journey to the travelling faithful and enjoy the game.

UTU’s


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